Pounding head pain, nausea, vomiting, blurry vision…
Migraines can wreak havoc on your quality of life.
Most folks suffer for years and mask the symptoms with over-the-counter painkillers.
But what if there was a better way to prevent migraines naturally?
In this article, we look at the latest research on supplements for migraines.
You don’t have to live your life with mind-splitting headaches!
Magnesium is an anti-inflammatory electrolyte that’s extremely important for brain health.
As it turns out, some people with migraines have low levels of magnesium in the brain.
This is especially true for women on their period and people who experience “auras” (a blurry vision that precedes migraines).
Luckily, taking magnesium supplements may help prevent migraines.
One review of the research on magnesium and migraines found that magnesium supplements can reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines. (1)
Magnesium comes in many forms, including magnesium citrate, chelated magnesium, and magnesium hydroxide.
Chelated magnesium is easiest for the gut to absorb.
Magnesium citrate, on the other hand, is more likely to cause side effects like diarrhea and abdominal cramping.
You can also get magnesium from high-fiber foods, like:
- Dark leafy greens
Best of all, some of these foods contain riboflavin, another important nutrient for migraine prevention, but more on that in a sec…
Make sure to buy fresh, organic foods because processed products are lower in magnesium.
2. Coenzyme Q10
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an antioxidant found in the mitochondria of your cells.
CoQ10 can help reduce oxidative stress and metabolic abnormalities in the brains of people with migraines.
A study published in the journal Neurology found that taking CoQ10 can reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. (2)
Participants took CoQ10 every day for three months.
In the end, more than 60 percent of patients had a 50 percent drop in the number of days they had a migraine.
CoQ10 may cause upset stomach or nausea in some individuals.
It also may conflict with the anticoagulant warfarin.
Ask your doctor to make sure there aren’t any complications.
Melatonin is a hormone that the body produces to promote sleep.
However, you can also take it as a supplement.
As it turns out, some people with chronic migraines have low melatonin.
Many people take melatonin to improve sleep or after a long flight to prevent jet lag.
At the same time, melatonin has anti-inflammatory effects to treat aches, pains, and migraines.
One clinical study found that taking melatonin can reduce migraine frequency. (3)
Participants took 3mg of melatonin a day for three months.
Researchers found that melatonin is more effective than amitriptyline (a drug that’s often prescribed for migraine prevention). Plus, melatonin had significantly fewer side effects.
In rare cases, however, melatonin can cause abdominal discomfort, short bouts of depression, and daytime sleepiness.
Because melatonin promotes sleep, it’s best to take it at night.
Talk to your doctor before taking melatonin if you take birth control pills, immunosuppressants, or anticoagulants because it may interact with these drugs.
In general, though, melatonin is safe and effective.
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a hormone made naturally in the skin when exposed to sunlight.
It’s well known for balancing hormones and supporting mental health.
At the same time, early research shows that vitamin D supplementation may reduce the frequency of migraine attacks.
This is because a large number of migraine sufferers are vitamin D deficient.
According to a review published in the journal Nutrients:
“The current literature indicates that [vitamin D] may be beneficial in some patients suffering headaches, mainly migraineurs, to reduce the frequency of headaches, especially in those with vitamin D deficiency,” authors said.” (4)
In one study, participants experienced fewer migraines after taking 50,000 IU (international units) of vitamin D per week. (5)
Talk to your doctor before taking vitamin D to find the right dose.
5. Vitamin B-2 (Riboflavin)
Vitamin B-2 (riboflavin) helps mitochondria cells in the body produce energy.
If you’re low on riboflavin, it can cause mitochondria to stop working properly or die.
Some experts think that unhealthy mitochondria may make you more sensitive to migraine triggers like bright lights, loud sounds or certain smells.
Luckily, taking riboflavin can help the body overcome mitochondrial problems.
Studies show that riboflavin supplements may reduce the frequency and duration of migraine attacks. (6)
However, there are only a couple of small studies out there and more research is needed.
One thing is for sure, though…
Riboflavin is essential to overall health!
Aside from taking supplements, you can also find riboflavin in meat, eggs, green veggies, and nuts.
Feverfew, also known as “medieval aspirin,” is a plant with a long history of treating fevers, aches, and pains.
Most of its benefits come from its anti-inflammatory properties.
Research shows that feverfew may help prevent migraines, but with mixed results…
In test-tube studies, compounds in feverfew helped reduce inflammation, smooth muscle spasms, and vasodilation, all of which are linked to migraines. (7)
However, human studies are lacking…
In a review of six clinical trials involving 561 patients, only four out of six found that feverfew can prevent migraines. The other two studies found no effect. (8)
But if you’re running out of treatments to try, feverfew may still be worth a shot.
Always consult your doctor before taking feverfew because it may interact with anticoagulants and other drugs.
Butterbur is a shrub that’s been used for centuries to treat headaches.
For the most part, it’s well-tolerated with only a few side effects like upset stomach and belching.
But recently butterbur has gotten into some controversy…
For example, several commercial preparations of butterbur have been linked to liver complications.
One review links the butterbur-containing product Petadolex to at least 40 cases of liver toxicity. (9)
In butterbur’s defense, most of these patients already had other serious health issues.
Always consult your doctor before taking products that contain butterbur.
However, for the right person, butterbur can be safe and effective.
How to Take Supplements Safely
Most over-the-counter supplements are safe to take within the recommended doses.
However, supplements can be harmful if you take too much or if they conflict with prescription drugs.
Pre-existing conditions, especially ones that affect the liver, can increase the risk of side effects.
If you have gut health issues, you may not be able to absorb supplements as most people do.
At the same time, some supplements may not be safe to use during pregnancy.
Ultimately, a new supplement that helps with migraines may end up making another condition worse.
In the end, only your doctor can decide if a supplement is safe for you to take.
Are Supplements Safe for Children with Migraines?
Supplements that are safe for adults may not be safe for children.
Only a few studies have shown that certain supplements might be safe and effective for kids.
According to the American Headache Society, the following supplements are safe for preventing migraines in children: (10)
- Vitamin B-2 (riboflavin)
Butterbur and feverfew, however, should be avoided.
As discussed early, generic forms of butterbur-based products may damage the liver.
For this reason, butterbur is no longer recommended for migraine prevention in children.
On a similar note, feverfew has not been studied in children and the long-term safety is unknown.
Lavender Aromatherapy for Migraines
Lavender essential oil is distilled from the lavender flower, but its floral fragrance is more than just a pretty smell…
Studies show that lavender aromatherapy can boost mood and may relieve headaches.
Simply diffuse lavender essential oil into the air or rub it on your chest and neck.
Lavender aromatherapy has been used for thousands of years to reduce stress and anxiety.
Fast forward to today, and recent research shows that it may help relieve migraines.
A 2012 study published in the journal European Neurology, had some impressive results…
In the study, 47 patients with ongoing migraines were divided into two groups. (11)
Half of them inhaled lavender essential oil for 15 minutes and the other half inhaled liquid paraffin (no medicinal benefit).
71 percent of patients in the lavender group experienced significant migraine relief, compared to less than 47 percent in the control group.
Aromatherapy is safe for people of all ages.
Plus, because it bypasses digestion it can be more effective for people with gut health issues.
However, lavender has a dirty little secret…
It may actually trigger headaches in a small percentage of individuals.
You’ve been warned!
Severe Headaches Can Be a Medical Medical Emergency
Some people suffer through severe headaches for years before seeking medical advice.
Although in most cases migraines are just a painful inconvenience, severe headaches can actually be dangerous.
You should seek immediate medical attention if your headache comes with the following symptoms:
- Starts suddenly and is immediately severe
- Speech difficulties
- Vision problems
- Movement difficulties
- Neck stiffness
- Coincides with fever
In these cases, the headache could be secondary to something much more serious.
Many of these symptoms are signs of a head injury, stroke, or brain aneurysm.
If you have any more questions about how to prevent migraines naturally, feel free to reach out to us at Complete Care Health Centers.
We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.